Monsters – Eh, the Pishtaco was actually interesting and I must admit I’m a sucker for a story about monsters trying to use their “abilities” in capitalistic ways rather than just rampaging. Yeah one can see how Pishtacos of old might have been more predatory when humans had less fat and they might have needed to eat all of a person to be fed, but now that so many countries are getting plentiful food and leisure time, those things should be able to set up a symbiotic relationship with us easy. I’ll say it: while it would probably be less sexy, I’d rather watch True Blood with those things coming out of the closet as it would make for much more compelling writing. Though there were a few problems once one looked back on the episode (though I need to rewatch to be sure), like how did victim #2 in the gym fall down on her back without seeing her attacker? How did the camera not see her attacker? The whole framing of that scene makes one wonder if anyone told the director what the monster was before it was done.
The werewolves – LOLcanon seems almost an understatement now. One wonders on how there’s any lore at all with those things since it seems like every time they show up in the show they’re a different monster. Which sucks because the classic interpretation – of people that periodically can’t control themselves – not only makes for better tragedy, but would fit better with this episode! Like if there was a cult/religion which was dedicated to restraining the beast, to regaining their human agency (which would add to the symbolism and impact of the silver bullet around the neck). Only to find out that there were some who wanted the opposite – to become the beast and be rid of their humanity. Really one has to wonder why bother with werewolves if you’re going to take away and not use the tragedy of their being? Why not make Garth & co vampires? Maybe the remnants of that group Lenore founded so long ago? (Probably because that would reference canon and support it and we can’t have that in the age of WDWWW.)
Now let’s talk about the big issue. One that becomes so much more glaring with these two episodes back to back…
As I’ve said before, long running shows (or not even then) will sometimes make a change to shake things up narratively. It fits in that spot between being a season long story arc and a two-parter. Usually there’s no real long-term impact except for what happens with character growth. This time, let’s look at a great example: Farscape. In season 3 they had the main character be cloned/duplicated, and he survived the episode! Which then allowed them to split up the cast, the main protagonist getting to show up on both sides of two congruent running plot threads (this lasted for about 9-10 episodes depending on how you count 2-parters). At the beginning of the mid-year, I was hopeful SPN was going to do something similar, and let us have a half dozen episodes or so of the boys being apart and letting the narrative explore that.
After 9.12 & 9.13 you wonder if that wasn’t the plan and executive meddling FORCED them to stick Sam & Dean back together. Think about it a moment: we have two “friendly monster” episodes back to back. Now take 9.12 – mentally replay the episode in your head, but remove Sam. Except for the closing brother moment, is there ANYTHING that changes in the episode with Sam removed? Likewise, take 9.13 and mentally remove Dean. Is there that much of a difference?
By now you’ve probably pieced together what’s the biggest missing piece of all this: Where’s Castiel? They’re not even giving us a fig-leaf of an explanation for where he’s at or what he’s up to? 9.12 Can work entirely with Dean alone, playing more off Garth (again, which they should because Jensen & DJ have good chemistry together). 9.13 not only works well with Sam & Cas investigating the case, but works BETTER especially with the closing bit where Sam has to explain to Castiel how they don’t have to kill every monster (something that, as an angelic soldier, he would probably not have considered sparing enemies that often) instead of having Sam explain to Dean a lesson that Dean’s not only learned several times, BUT LEARNED THE PREVIOUS WEEK! Heck you could have had Misha show up both weeks (first hunting alone with Dean, then with Sam) and had a darkly humorous bit with him going “Sam says he’s still not talking to you, Dean.” “Dean says he’s not talking to you either, Sam.” (etc)
See, here’s the big question: what difference has Castiel’s empowerment made since 9.09? None! Only when healing Sam in 9.11 but that ended up resulting in MORE plot holes. Think about it. Let’s cut out Cas’s grace vamping.
- 9.10 – Cas doesn’t have the power to let Dean mindmeld with Sam so Crowley has to go in to bust little bro out of his mental prison. It also gets around the problem, “why doesn’t Cas just resurrect Kevin?”
- 9.11 – Sam’s actually mostly ok, with some regular old-fashioned first aid being used to keep him alive. Oh but NOW we find out about the “Where’s Gadreel?” spell only getting the grace ends up wounding Sam more. NOW Cas has a dilemma with killing Sam since being powerless, he can’t bring the guy right back.
- 9.12 & 9.13 – Powerless Cas means they don’t have ignore him for these episodes to keep him from solving the problems in seconds. He can end up roofied or knocked out and tied up to a tractor.
Then just imagine the closing discussions between the bros still happen, but they don’t talk to each other. Dean could talk to Garth in 9.12 and maybe have Garth talk some sense into him (you know, like in episode 8.06 WHICH WAS A GOOD ONE!). Or Dean could talk to a visiting Castiel, then Sam could talk to Cas again in 9.13 leaving Castiel stuck between the two of them, knowing what each won’t say to either, giving us GOOD drama.
Instead we get a Sam & Dean going through the motions, only remembering anything from their own character history when the writers decide they want them to. (Oh Sam, you wouldn’t save Dean? So I guess we’re just forgetting about Swan Song? Or that you wouldn’t let him take over the trials from you? Dean are you just rolling a D20 to see if you’re merciful or hateful towards monsters of ambiguous morality today?)
Yes I could rant on and on about the burdens of hunters – of whether you should send a monster to another country or set up a parole like structure to keep tabs on how reformed they are or any number of other things…
But when the show’s own writers and creators can’t be bothered to give a fuck, it gets hard to justify why I should.
(both episodes get a 3 shell rating or lower, they’re just mediocre)